I’ve been busy the last few weeks (as you can tell by the paucity of posts :-). I’ve been working with project managers, Scrum Masters, and technical leads who have been thrust into the role of Scrum Master.
Here are some examples of the problems these nice folks have had:
- “When I want to use timeboxes to focus the attention of the project team on the project, my boss won’t let me.” — a Project Manager
- “Our Product Owner can’t decide on a backlog before the sprint starts. How can we possibly commit to anything?” — a Scrum Master
- “Our Product Owner thinks that reviewing the backlog and have a demo and retrospective every 4 weeks is too frequent, so our sprints are now 8 weeks.” — technical lead working as a Scrum Master
None of these folks are really acting as a project manager, whether that PM is called a PM or a Scrum Master. The PM’s role is to steer the project to “done,” and that means choosing and following through on the actions required to get to done. A PM makes the choices and acts on them–or the PM is not effective. A Scrum Master is supposed to protect the process. Anyone working as a Scrum Master who’s not protecting the process is not effective in that role.
Think about your recent actions. Are they helping the project, irrespective of the project’s organization? If not, you’re not effective as a PM.
Effective PMs control their project’s process. Do that, and you’ll be an effective PM or Scrum Master, or whatever your organization calls you. Don’t control the project’s process and the project and organization will control you.